Maple Leafs lost because they were gassed in OT
TORONTOCody Franson knew the Maple Leafs were in trouble in overtime. He could feel it in his burning legs.
He had been on the ice for more than a minute and a half. His average shift length in the third period had been 44 seconds. When the Boston Bruins scored to eliminate the Leafs, Franson had been on the ice for an excruciating final 104 seconds. One minute longer than usual.
And for his partner, Jake Gardiner, who also played the final 1:44 of Game 7, whose giveaway resulted in Patrice Bergeron overtime winner, it was 53 seconds more ice time than he was averaging on the night.
All this, in an NHL in which 45 second shifts seem to be the norm.
couldn get off the ice, Franson said. kept coming at us We never really had a clean chance to change.
you been out there for a minute already, your legs start to burn. When you battling guys like (Milan) Lucic and (Jaromir) Jagr and Bergeron, they very strong on the puck. You try and muscle them, but it takes a lot out of you, a lot out of your legs. You have no strength. that stage in the first overtime period of Game 7, he and Gardiner had nothing left. No push back. Neither did the Leafs wingers, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, whose final shift was longer than a minute, as well.
In the end, it was fresh legs versus worn out legs. The final shift for Bergeron, who scored the tying and winning goal in Game 7 was just 33 seconds.
THIS AND THAT
It nice that the Maple Leafs have interest in free agent David Clarkson. But understand this: So do about 20 other NHL teams. Clarkson, the New Jersey winger who wants to stay in the East, can pick and choose where he plays next season. There will be that much demand James Reimer is a decent NHL goaltender, but he can be considered great until he learns to control his rebounds better. One of the reasons the Leafs give up so many shots on goal is because his rebound control is sub par Of all the strides made by the Maple Leafs this season, the biggest stride wasn the development of Nazem Kadri. It was the jump Franson made on defence, from mistrusted scratch under both Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle, to dependable top four defenceman. People may not remember that he began this season as a healthy scratch in three of the Leafs first five games and ended up their most dependable defender If the Leafs can or choose not to, sign centre Tyler Bozak, the best free agent to replace him is 30 year old Stephen Weiss. Weiss missed most of this season with a wrist injury, but before that was consistent and effective year after year with the Florida Panthers Player agent Wade Arnott will be significant in the Leafs off season plans, no matter what happens. He represents Bozak, Clarkson and Kessel, who may be worth re signing long term after July Kessel, by the way, despite his oddness, loves playing in Toronto. He likes the hockey buzz, even if he doesn care to take part in all of it. He happy to stay a Leaf if they happy to keep him. That part we don know yet.
HEAR AND THERE
Must have felt strange for Melky Cabrera to be given a World Series ring from a San Francisco Giants team that didn want him on their post season roster Understand this about Tim Leiweke, the much ballyhooed new head of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment: When he was Dean Lombardi boss in Los Angeles, he desperately wanted the Kings to sign free agent Ilya Kovalchuk. He pushed hard for it, and although GM Lombardi really didn want Kovalchuk, he went along with it. In retrospect, I wonder: If the Kings signed Kovalchuk, as Leiweke wanted, do they wind up winning the Stanley Cup? Vernon Wells has played outfield, second base and third base for the Yankees, and has more home runs (10 9), more RBIs (23 20) and a higher batting average (.286 to .250) than Jose Bautista. And the truth is that after some really tough years, it couldn happen to a nicer guy Still can believe the Yankees are in first place with 34 year old Wells, 36 year old Travis Hafner and 36 year old Lyle Overbay as their 3 4 5 hitters Truth in numbers. Or not. Kadri had 11 more regular season points than David Krejci.
SCENE AND HEARD
This Blue Jays team makes you want to scream. It heads to Yankee Stadium in need of picking up games and loses the first two to the undermanned Yanks. And on Sunday they face CC Sabathia. It just not happening with this group, this year Brandon Morrow has three wins for the Jays. In the those wins, the Jays have scored 10, 9 and six runs. He has to be better than this Just thought of this: Is Don Bosco looking for a new football coach? A concept I never quite comprehended: Fun run I don know why, but it amuses me that a huge, powerful company such as MLSE pays good money to hire search firms to try and identify general managers for its major league teams. Last time it hired a search firm from the hockey end, the firm identified Ken Holland and Brian Burke as the best choices available. Anybody in the game could have told them that for free. Now, it has paid for someone to tell them that NBA executive of the year, Masai Ujiri, is the best choice to replace Bryan Colangelo. Yep, that must have been difficult to figure out Maybe the most remarkable statistic in hockey: With Patrick Sharp in the lineup, the Blackhawks had not lost a game in regulation time until Saturday The other crazy Chicago stat: The Hawks have not allowed a power play goal in the post season but have scored one shorthanded. In their first round defeat, the Vancouver Canucks allowed seven power play goals.
AND ANOTHER THING
If you never watched hockey before and happened to catch the Penguins Islanders series, you would think John Tavares, not Sidney Crosby, is the best player in hockey. After Game 2 against Ottawa, you might have changed your mind What does it say about Rudy Gay that the Memphis Grizzlies traded him away and got better by doing so? Look for the Grizzlies to beat San Antonio and advance to the NBA final against the Miami Heat Fascinating choice: In a must win game that didn turn out to be one, Team USA coach Joe Sacco started junior goalie John Gibson ahead of Ben Bishop at the world championship Barring any changes, the Leafs will pick 21st in the entry draft. If they want a shot at London Max Domi, they going to have to trade up to get him Can rememeber a Memorial Cup with the top three players in the draft Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin all participating And I do remember scouts who were convinced Kirk Muller was a better pick than Mario Lemieux, because of Lemieux less than sterling play in the junior hockey championship Happy birthday to Archie Manning (64), Kevin Garnett (37), Bill Laimbeer (56), Rick Cerone (59), Vicky Sunohara (43) and London Fletcher (38) hey, whatever became of Brian Curran?
COACHING SEARCHES ON HOLD
The waiting game for Alain Vigneault has begun. And the same may be true with Dave Tippett (pictured).
Both men are still employed as NHL coaches. Both men are considered among the best. But Vigneault future with the Vancouver Canucks is in doubt and Tippett contract with the Phoenix Coyotes expires next month.
So the coaching openings in Colorado and Dallas, and maybe in Edmonton, are on hold awaiting moves in the marketplace. Should either Tippett or Vigneault be made available, they, along with Lindy Ruff, become the most likely hirings for teams looking for established coaches. With only two certain openings, and possibly as many as five, should Vigneault and Tippett become available, there is room for a game of coaches musical chairs here.
The number of quality veterans available may also make it more difficult for Marlies coach Dallas Eakins to make the jump he is so deserving of.
CANADA CAN WIN OVERSEAS
For those keeping track, this is the fourth consecutive year in which Team Canada has failed to win a medal at the world men hockey championship.
## ## That wouldn mean much in the big picture, because of what the world championship is, unless you consider this: If you include Olympic performance on non North American ice, the Canadian history becomes more problematic.
Canada failed to win a medal in Japan in 1998, the first year NHL players were invited to the Winter Games. In Italy in 2006, again a strong Canadian team came away empty handed from the podium.
They did win gold in North America twice, in Salt Lake and Vancouver just nothing overseas.
Even in this year world championship, with a stacked lineup of accomplished NHL forwards, the Canadian team never found its way. Olympic team GM Steve Yzerman and his coach, the soon to be named Mike Babcock, need to discover a way to end this unlikely streak in Sochi in 2014.
Six different countries have won medals in the past four world championships the Canadian absence from the podium, at worlds and Olympics needs to be rectified.
COLANGELO ERA ENDS IN DISAPPOINTMENT
No one looked the part better than Bryan Colangelo. He dressed well. He carried himself with aplomb. He sounded like a man with a plan, confident, convincing: From the outside, he oozed cool and poise with an I kind of leadership.